London an open minded and diverse city with large gay scene and lot of historical traditions.
London is capital of Europe and in the top tourist destinations of the world. Standing on the River Thames it was founded by the Romans, who named it Londinium. London was initially just the area which is now the City of London and financial district.
London is one of the leading global cities for arts, business, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, media, professional services, research and development and tourism.
London became the first city an only city in the world to host the Olympic Games three times in 2012. London is very cosmopolitan and diverse cities in the world with over 300 spoken languages.
The death penalty for a homosexual act was removed in 1861 but not until 1967 was homosexual acts in private between consenting adults over the age of 21 decriminalised. The age of consent was then reduced twice to 18 and finally to 16 in 2001.
Civil Partnerships which is a ceremony that grants same sex couples the same rights as for those married came into effect in 2004.
London has a very open, vibrant and diverse gay scene with something for everyone. There are a huge number of lively gay bars, nightclubs, steamy saunas, well-stocked gay shops and proud gay organisations. London has two ‘gay villages’ located in Soho and Vauxhall.
The Soho gay area is located in the centre close to the Piccadilly Circus. Many of the venues are on or close to Rupert Street and Old Compton Street. You will find an excellent choice of gay bars and restaurants.
The Vauxhall gay area is located south of the Thames River near Vauxhall Bridge. It is particularly well known for late night dance clubs so many people start the evening in Soho and move to Vauxhall close to midnight. There are in addition gay venues across the city in many other areas.
Many of London’s most popular attractions and shops are within easy walking distance. This can be the best way and cheapest way to explore the city, particularly during the summer months.
London has an extensive underground metro system. It is the fastest way to travel around the city. The underground network is made up of different lines. Each line has its own name and colour on the underground map.
Trains operate from around 5am to 1am and a less frequent service operates on Friday and Saturday nights. The underground network is zoned and the ticket prices are based on the number of zones you travel between for each journey.
Tickets are available for individual journeys but using an Oyster Card is a much cheaper than buy a ticket for every journey. It is therefore recommended to purchase an Oyster Card if you want to travel around London on public transport. An Oyster Card is card pre-loaded with an amount to be used for travel on the buses, underground and some trains.
You just ask to by a standard Oyster Card at any Underground station and add an amount for usage for travel from £5 upwards. You use the card to access the underground and when travelling on buses and the cost of the fares are deducted from the amount you loaded on the Oyster Card. You can top up the card if you use all of the credit or it gets low at the underground ticket machines.
London has the world’s largest city airport system comprising of five international airports. The two main international “long-haul” airports are Heathrow and Gatwick. London City, London Luton and London Stanstead handle mostly European and domestic flights but do have a few international flights.
Heathrow Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world. It connects to the city centre by a fast rail link called the Heathrow Express to Paddington station which take 15 minutes but is very expensive. There is an alternative rail service to Paddington, called Heathrow Connect, that stops at a small number of stations and cost about 25% of the cost of the Heathrow Express and takes 25 minutes.
The Piccadilly Underground Line runs from Heathrow through central London and is the cheapest form of transport to the centre taking approximately 1 hour. Taxis from the airport cost are expensive due to distance from central London.
Gatwick Airport is a smaller airport with 2 terminals outside of London and used for a mixture of European and long-haul flights. There is a connection by fast rail link call the Gatwick Express to Victoria. This is a 30-minute nonstop service to Victoria Station.
Taxis and bus services are also available at Gatwick. Taxis are again expensive due to the distance from Gatwick airport to central London.
The London city airport is closest to the centre and you can travel on the underground system from there. In the case of Luton airport and Stanstead airports they have direct train links to the centre of London.
Places to stay
Hotels are not permitted to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. By law, hotels and guest houses must welcome gay guests.
London does not have any exclusively gay places to stay but has a number of gay friendly hotels. All the places to stay listed on our website are gay friendly. It is advisable to book a centrally located hotel in the centre so you can see as much of London as possible during your visit. Booking in advance give you more choice of places to stay at generally better prices than last minutes due to greater availability.
London is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world due to the huge amount to see and experience. Here are just a few of the main highlights we think you should try to see and experience on your trip to London that are all within walking distance of the centre of London.
Buckingham Palace is home of the Queen and British Royal Family.
Houses of Parliament and Big Ben is the building as the name states, where the government of England debates and voting is housed.
Downing Street is where the prime minister lives at number 10 and the chancellor of the exchequer whom is the finance minister lives at number 11.
Westminster Abbey is a famous church typically used for royal wedding or funerals of royalty or other famous English dignitaries and politicians.
London Eye is the 135 metre where which offers a stunning view of the city in the 40-minute ride.
British Museum is a free museum housing some of the biggest collection of exhibits from around the world collected by the British sailors on their travels to explore the world.
Tate Modern is a free museum housing a huge collect of modern art.
The National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery (next door) are free with some of the finest painting in the world.
Bars, Clubs & Parties
London has a huge selection of gay bars and clubs catering for all tastes.
The 2 main areas most tourist visit are Soho and Vauxhall. We have divided our summary of gay bars and clubs into two sections for each area and the most iconic places which have been open the longest.
Soho is home to some of London’s best-known gay bars, most located on or close to Old Compton Street, Rupert Street and Wardour Street. It’s an area you can visit any time and there will always be member of the gay community about.
G-A-Y is a bar with the motto “Good As You” very popular with a mixed crowd but with more of a young crowd most nights of the week.
VILLAGE Soho is an iconic gay bar and one of the most popular gay bars busy with a mixed crowd there to see the go-go boys dancing on the top of the bar.
Rupert Street is another popular bar that serve food during the day and early evening. It gets packed after work and people spill out onto the street during the summer.
The Yard is a bar with its own private courtyard with outdoor heaters and very popular with those who still like to smoke as they do not need to go outside on the street.
Compton’s of Soho has been open since 1986. It is like a traditional English pub attracting a more mature beer-drinking crowd.
Admiral Duncan is another traditional English gay pub, in 1999 a neo Nazi attempted to leave a bomb in the bar. 3 people were killed and 70 injured in the attack. There is a memorial inside the bar.
The Duke of Wellington has been open for over 10 years and is a genuinely friendly bar that serves as a ‘local’ for many who live or work in the centre of London.
Kings Arms has been open over 35 years as a gay bar. The bar is known as being one of the friendliest bear bars in Soho
Halfway to Heaven is a famous gay bar with cabaret shows.
Vauxhall is the second gay village in London. As well as bars it is where the main gay dance parties are held.
RVT (Royal Vauxhall Tavern) is a pub believed to be London’s oldest gay venue and remains the cornerstone of the Vauxhall gay village. Today, the RVT is known for its hugely popular drag shows.
EAGLE London is large English traditional pub with a dance floor and outside garden for smokers.
London has some of the best gay dance clubs and parties in Europe and if you want to go out clubbing there is some to go every night of the week.
You can find a gay nightclub open somewhere in London every night of the week, with many open all night or even late morning the next day.
Beyond @ Fire in Vauxhall is one of London’s busiest after-hours dance parties attracting a muscle-packed crowd every Sunday morning and producing brilliantly parties with exceptionally talented DJ’s.
G-A-Y @ Heaven near Charing Cross. Heaven is one of the longest-running gay dance clubs in Europe. Today, the venue is home to London’s popular G-A-Y party. The club attracts a young, good looking, trendy and fashionable crowd.
A:M afterhours @ Protocol is London’s most famous Saturday morning after hours club. The club provided an upbeat terrific atmosphere for those who just don’t want Friday night to end early.
BRÜT London @ Bloc South in Vauxhall. This is one of London’s biggest club most popular for bears and muscular blokes but not gym bunnies and their admirers.
CIRCA The Club is a new gay club with 750 capacity across the River Thames from the London eye.
WE Party UK is once a month on the first Saturday and run by WE party team from Madrid. Expect a great DJ line-up, stunning visuals and gorgeously hunky dancers who bring to life each party’s theme.
Warning the use of recreational drugs in the UK is illegal. In reality, many people take illegal drugs at dance parties but we strongly advise against the use of all illegal drugs. In particular, we strongly advise against the use of a liquid drug known as ‘G’ (GHB or GBL). As it is a liquid, it is very difficult to know how much to take. You will not know how your body will react.
If you take too little, the drug will have no effect. If you take too much, then you will vomit and may pass out. There have been many deaths as a result of accidental ‘G’ overdose.
Cafes & Restaurants
London has a large variety of cafes and restaurants. The choice of different types of food is great. There is China town close to Soho for good Chinese. Look for places to dine with your eyes and nose to see the food being eaten by other diners and if the customers are cute.
Gay saunas in London generally offer a good range of well-maintained facilities. Listed below are those in centre of London and Vauxhall.
Sweatbox Sauna in Soho is a 24-hour gay sauna and attracts locals and tourists after bars in Soho have closed. Features include a fully equipped gym, a large steam room, big jacuzzi, ‘steam maze’, dark rooms, private cabins and a chill out lounge.
The Stable in Covent Garden is a sauna for gay & bisexual men. Features include a steam room, sauna, open-plan showers, large jacuzzi and cabins.
Pleasuredrome is close to Waterloo. It has 300 locker changing room, large spa pool, two steam rooms, two saunas, open showers & private cabins.
Chariots in Vauxhall is busy every night but especially at the weekends after the nearby bars and dance clubs close. Facilities include 500 lockers, two large steam rooms, two saunas, two dark rooms, and a maze with private cabins.
London has a selection of cruise bars and clubs. Listed below are those in centre of London and Vauxhall.
Hard On @ Bloc South in Vauxhall. At the rather extreme fetish end of the London gay clubbing scene, Hard On is usually held on the 3rd Saturday each month featuring a dance floor, dark rooms, live shows and wet area. Generally strict dress code (rubber, leather or uniform enforced)
SBN & NBN @ Fire in Vauxhall is London’s largest naked party. SBN features music sets from DJ’s, live shows onstage, play spaces, dark room, slings. Then join the NBN party afterwards in your jocks, shorts, underwear (or still naked) from 6pm-10pm with large outdoor, private garden.
Main LGBT Events
London’s annual Pride attracts a crowd from all round the UK and tourists. There is a parade on Saturday afternoon and party in Trafalgar Square. Soho is generally packed with the street full of people drinking outside all the bars and celebrating the event.